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Report from Lockheed Martin HQ Shutdown (London, England)
anti-war / imperialism |
Tuesday December 18, 2007 11:06 by Ciaron O'Reilly
Muriel Lesters block access to the London headquarters of Lockheed Martin
Well apparently they weren't all Grannies,
......but they were definitely ragin' in the best nonviolent sense and it certainly was an interesting demographic that kept knocking on the London Catholic Worker (LCW) door the previous night. Knocking for a meeting that was down at the Catholic Worker cafe. So my humble role of redirecting more militant traffic in the direction of the last fine tuning meeting remained constant.
I got to play a minimal support role. Did my best to maximise the support by dragging along Amy the Aussie visiting the LCW from Perth's Peace Tree community, my cousin heading to work near Victoria and Amanda visiting London from Dublin. Admittedly the cousin and Amanda didn't know what they were going to before they got there, but hey these are the high security "need to know" norties we're operating in!
The action faction were the Muriel Lester's affinity group of the Trident Ploughshares 2000 network - that's one network that has no sense of their use by date! This affinity group, most of whom are in their '60's & '70's, have no concept of a use by date on their activist lives. 40 year old Fr. Martin Newell, Passionist priest & London Catholic Worker appeared quite youthful in such company.
It was a chilly morning alrighty as we assembled outside Victoria Station at 7.30 am. Around 8am we hit a critical mass of double figures and made our move. The wheelchair picked up speed and as we hit Lockheed HQ folks spread out. The front entrance was chained shut and those risking arrest disappeared from view around the back to chain and block other exits & entrances. They were really serious about shutting this building down! I was directed to stand on my lonesome at the secured public entrance holding a "Lockheed Martin Nuclear Crime Scene" sign. As Lockheed staff arrived, and began failing to access their usual entrance to their daily grind of WMD production, I tried to muster all my charm to greet, engage and offer leaflets.
The central London Headquarters of U.S. arms firm Lockheed Martin (slogan "We never forget who we're working (murdering/spying) for!") is an anonymous building (Manning House, 22 Carlisle Place , London . SW1P 1JA), hidden away in a side street near Victoria Station. In Britain, Lockheed Martin makes Trident nuclear weapons (warheads and missiles) and produces surveillance systems used by intelligence services to spy on the public and for commercial espionage.
Belgravia police were called by Lockheed and arrived at the front entrance with quite a flourish. They found the door chained shut, pretty much me on my lonesome and a growing number of disrupted Lockheed Martin workers. Those risking arrest who had chained the front door and strung up a banner were now around the back outta sight outta mind (of the police) securing the building from any possibility of business as usual.
The police initially assumed I was fully responsible for the disruption. I assured them I had just got here before them to be pleasantly surprised by finding the front doors chained. I hoped they would be pleasantly surprised too, they weren't! I humbly declined responsibility for such a serious disruption to the business of Lockheed Martin. I offered one officer a leaflet, he brusquely declined. I said "This could be an important piece of evidence!" He enthusiastically accepted the leaflet.
More police arrived and then finally more police with boltcutters. After 45 minutes the chains were snipped and the Lockheed Martin employees made their entrance to produce what? Anything that will satisfy human needs - food, shelter, nourishment - no they have harnessed their intelect and labour for production of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Once the building was accessible the folks blocking access around the back came to the front maintaining vigil, leafletting employees and passers by until 9.30 am.
Father Martin Newell blockader , from the London Catholic Worker , stated: “I feel it is my duty as a Christian to follow the prince of peace and oppose the horror of nuclear weapons.”
Myra Garrett blockader from east London says: “I felt I had to target the company because of the new nuclear weapons facilities they are developing at Aldermaston.”
Chris Gwynthopher, Quaker from east London, stated: “the building had to be closed in the interests of public security and world peace. Unlike Lockheed, I feel my purpose is to save life, not destroy it. I wish the workers would leave the building for good and seek more humane employment”.
Irene Willis blockader from Essex stated: “Christmas seems an appropriate time of year to reflect upon the horrific effects the arms trade and nuclear weapons have in the world and to ask ourselves whether we really need them.”
My cousin said, "Wow that was interesting, meet you for a pint tomorrow!"
Aussie Amy said, "I haven't done this before, must try this back in Perth!"
The Trident Ploughshares affinity group structure and praxis has always impressed me - whether it be with the high risk disarmament actions, the mass blockades at Faslane or these more decentralised interventions around England and Scotland on varied points of the nuclear war assembly line. Non-violence, direct democracy & direct action can't beat 'em as organising principles. Trident Ploughshares (they dropped the 2000 with the passing of the millenium!), ten years old and still going strong.
The group intends to pay the company another visit in the near future.
1. Lockheed Martin , Serco and - currently - British Nuclear Fuels Plc (BNFL) are equal shareholders in AWE Management Ltd, which the UK Ministry of Defence has awarded a multi-billion pound contract to manage and operate the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites at Aldermaston and Burghfield, both in Berkshire , until at least 2025. This is where Britain's nuclear weapons are developed and maintained.
2. Lockheed Martin promotes itself thus:
“Our vision: As an increasing number of nations of all sizes around the world indicate the desire and capacity to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, it is necessary to expand our field of vision.
“Our aim: To sustain capability to design a warhead to succeed Trident by facilitating production of British nuclear warheads.
“Our priorities: The key elements of the science-based programme we are putting in place to maintain the country’s nuclear stockpile.
“Our future: We can now look forward to a long-term stable future for AWE and for the UK nuclear weapons programme.”
Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest arms company. Besides nuclear weapons, it produces a host of killing and spying machines, devices and systems, including ‘bunker buster’ bombs, cluster bombs and landmines.
The company also provides military interrogators for places like Guantanamo Bay and Iraq . It is also a leading partner in the Echelon global surveillance network. Its employees work alongside the American NSA (National Security Agency) at Menwith Hill spy station in Yorkshire .
See the following for details of the above: http://censusalert.org.uk/lockheed_martin.html
As well as being one of two lead bidders for the 2011 UK Census (see http://censusalert.org.uk/ and http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/09/census_boycott/ ), Lockheed Martin also has civilian contracts in the UK with: Metropolitan Police Service, Transport for London, Network Rail, Railways - Positive Train Control, Royal Mail
More info on Lockheed Martin from Schnews
The company’s corporate websites:
3. Trident Ploughshares is committed to bringing about the disarmament of British nuclear weapons through peaceful non-violent direct action. They call upon the British government to stop deploying its submarine-launched Trident nuclear weapons system with immediate effect, safely decommission every one of its warheads as soon as practicable, reverse its decision to renew / replace its (US-dependent) Trident system, and insist that the UN adopt a global Nuclear Weapons Convention outlawing all nuclear weapons at the very earliest opportunity.
Reports on recent Trident Ploughshares actions against Lockheed Martin (Oct 2007):
Reports and pics from Trident Ploughshares London ‘weapons inspections’ earlier this year (Feb 2007), which included Lockheed Martin:
Reports from previous Trident Ploughshares actions at Lockheed Martin’s UK headquarters: